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“Dog Bites Man”: Devos Denies Defrauded Students Debt Forgiveness Despite Court Order

April 6, 2019

In a “dog bites man” story, the NYTimes reported that the Department of Education under Betsy Devos’ leadership has refused to comply with a court order that they forgive the debts incurred by students who were defrauded by profiteering colleges. The Times’ Erica Green writes:

The Education Department failed to approve a single application for federal student loan relief in the second half of last year, according to new department data that signals that students who claim they were cheated by their colleges cannot count on help from Washington anytime soon…

Since taking office, Ms. DeVos has tried to overhaul the 2016 process started by the Obama administration that was supposed to pave an easier road for students to secure loan relief after their colleges are found to have misled them with inflated claims of false promises of jobs. The Obama administration approved nearly 30,000 such claims, estimated at $450 million, in its last year in office. The Education Department approved 16,155 from Jan. 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018.

To translate: in the final ONE year of the Obama administration, 30,000 secured debt relief. I the first TWO years of the Trump administration 16,155— roughly half as many students secured debt relief. And contrary to Ms. Devos’ protests it has less to due with litigation by plaintiffs trying to pry more money from profiteers and more to do with the mindset of those leading the department.

Roughly midway through the article there was this exchange between Senator Dick Durbin and Ms. DeVos:

“Don’t you have a heart?” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, asked Ms. DeVos at a hearing on the department’s budget, where he cited 140,000 “victim students waiting on your department to give them relief so they can get on with their lives.”

“No student should be defrauded, and if fraud is involved, there are consequences, and there will be consequences,” Ms. DeVos replied. “But we should not be judging institutions by their tax status. Let’s be very honest here; there are bad actors on both sides of the equation.”

She added, with some indignance, “Let’s talk about the nonprofits that are doing a bad job, that are subject to bribes, that are lying in order to improve their U.S. News and World Report statistics,” referring to the recent college admissions scandal rocking Ivy League and other elite institutions.

Were I Mr. Durbin, I would express my complete agreement with Ms. DeVos on her final point and then pose the question of what she intends to do with those colleges who are found to be lying in order to improve their US News and World Report standings and ask what kinds of metrics her department is working on to replace those metrics…. for absent metrics like those that resulted in evidence of students being defrauded the entire college landscape will soon be dominated by snake-oil salesmen.

Ms. Devos, her boss— Mr. Trump, and the GOP are all in favor of Darwinian Caveat Emptor Capitalism where the consumer is at fault when they are misled. Maybe a form of Darwinian Democracy will result in a change of thinking in Washington DC.

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